Monday, January 31, 2005

3rd annual Central Ohio Film Critics Association Awards

Since none of the wires have picked up this release, I guess I get to break the news here:

(Columbus, January 25, 2005) Million Dollar Baby, director Clint Eastwood’s acclaimed drama starring Eastwood, Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman, took the top prize in the third annual awards from the Central Ohio Film Critics Association (COFCA). Eastwood’s 25th feature as a director recently took home two Golden Globe Awards and was today nominated for seven Academy Awards.

Alexander Payne won Best Direction for Sideways, the much-heralded midlife crisis comedy starring Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church, Virginia Madsen and Sandra Oh.

Best Lead Performance went to Swank for her portrayal of underdog boxer Maggie Fitzgerald in Million Dollar Baby. Church, winner of dozens of year-end awards, added another to the list for his Supporting Performance in Sideways.

Best Screenplay honors went to Charlie Kaufman for his mind-bending romance, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

The Central Ohio Film Critics Association, comprised of 17 members, was created in 2002 by leading print, broadcast and Internet film critics for the purpose of enriching the Columbus area’s burgeoning film viewing community.

Complete list of awards:

Best Film: Million Dollar Baby
runner up: Sideways/Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (tie)

Best Direction: Alexander Payne, Sideways (runner up: Clint Eastwood, Million Dollar Baby)

Best Lead Performance: Hilary Swank, Million Dollar Baby (runner up: Jamie Foxx, Ray)

Best Supporting Performance: Thomas Haden Church, Sideways (runner up: Clive Owen, Closer)

Actor of the Year (for an exemplary body of work): Cate Blanchett, Coffee & Cigarettes, The Aviator, The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (runner up: Jamie Foxx, Collateral, Ray)

Best Ensemble: the cast of I Heart Huckabees (runner up: the cast of Sideways)

Best Screenplay: Charlie Kaufman, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (runner up: Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor, Sideways)

Best Formal Design (for exceptional visual aesthetic): The Aviator (runner up: Hero)

Best Sound Design (for exceptional aural aesthetic): Kill Bill Vol. 2 (runner up: The Village)

Breakthrough Film Artist: Zach Braff, Garden State; for acting, writing and directing (runner up: Catalina Sandino Moreno, Maria Full of Grace; for acting)

Top Ten Films:

1. Million Dollar Baby
2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
4. The Incredibles
5. The Aviator
Before Sunset
8. Dogville
The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou
Maria Full of Grace

COFCA would like to offer its congratulations to the winners. Voting members include critics from The Columbus Dispatch, Alive, The Other Paper, The Film Journal, WCBE, WAZU, WOSU and WOCC-TV 3.

A complete list of members and their affiliations:

Rick Curnutte, The Film Journal; John DeSando, WCBE; Frank Gabrenya, The Columbus Dispatch; Brian Lindamood, Alive; Joyce Long, WOSU; Rico Long, WOSU; Clay Lowe, WCBE; Hope Madden, The Other Paper; Daidria Curnutte, The Film Journal; Paul Markoff, WOCC-TV 3; Caleb Mozzocco, Alive; Mark Pfeiffer, WOCC-TV 3; Dave Redelberger, WAZU; Melissa Starker, Alive; Peter Tonguette, The Film Journal; Jordan Gentile, The Other Paper; Colin Mack, BUCKITV

Sunday, January 30, 2005

One link leads to another

Sorry for the lack of updates of late. With pre-production and the associated writing for the two NOW PLAYING special edition shows consuming a lot of my time, things have been a little slow here. Rest assured, this week should see quite a bit of posting regarding the best and worst films of 2004.

In all the bustle of this month I've neglected to provide a link to my latest contribution to The Film Journal. Since the good folks at GreenCine Daily have seen fit to provide a nice overview of the Robert Mulligan issue and linked to this modest blog, now's as good a time as any to direct you to it.

My piece is entitled Innocence Lost: Robert Mulligan's The Man in the Moon. How academic. This is the second time I've written about THE MAN IN THE MOON, the first being this DVD review written three or four years ago. (Yes, there's a formatting problem in the DVDMon review that I need to fix. I do know the difference between apostrophes and quotations marks.)

My pick for the best film of 2004 appears in the Life/Arts section of today's Columbus Dispatch. Frank Gabrenya's recap of the Central Ohio Movie Association's annual soirée may not be viewable online to non-subscribers, so, to keep you from dying from suspense, I went with DOGVILLE. (I've just learned of the site, which can save you the hassle of registering to read newspapers on the web, but a log-in ID isn't listed for the Dispatch, presumably because it's a pay site.)

Unlike the mythical COMA, the Central Ohio Film Critics Association (COFCA) is an actual group that released the winners of its third annual awards last week. I'd link to the list, but the press release was met with a resounding collective yawn and hasn't been published anywhere. At the very least I'll post the results here this week.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Awards overkill

The 77th annual Academy Awards nominations were announced today. Yippee.

If you detect a lack of enthusiasm, chalk it up to the incessant horse race monitoring and prognosticating that kicks awards season into gear come September. In tomorrow's New York Times Stephen Holden wonders "if I'm the only moviegoer who was suffering from Oscar fatigue even before the Academy Awards nominations were announced yesterday morning."


My less than enthusiastic attitude derives from the almost total lack of surprise in the nomination announcements. Sure, Mike Leigh's Best Director nom for VERA DRAKE, Paul Giamatti's SIDEWAYS performance being left out of the Best Actor race, and the woefully inferior SHARK TALE'S inclusion in the Best Animated Film category over THE POLAR EXPRESS could be classified as mildly unexpected, but that's as exciting as it gets? I could have predicted thirty of the forty nominations in the eight major categories (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Original Screenplay, Adapted Screenplay) without breaking a sweat. I probably could have done better than 75%--and proved it--if I felt like it was a worthwhile pre-announcement exercise. (I was going to post my predictions last night but decided it wasn't worth the effort.)

"But Mark, you are plugged into the scene more than the average moviegoer," you say. Fair enough. I expect a goodly portion of the people who will see the nominations and watch the awards telecast won't know who MARIA FULL OF GRACE Best Actress nominee Catalina Sandino Moreno is. For that matter, many won't have seen SIDEWAYS or MILLION DOLLAR BABY, although withholding these films from wide release has been part of Oscar campaigning strategies. Still, even without seeing the films or being unable to pick some of the acting nominees out of a lineup, Joe Average Moviegoer could have made solid guesses based on the inordinate amount of space newspapers, periodicals, and websites devote to Oscar speculation. Either there's a voracious appetite for this information or editors are grossly overestimating the interest.

As Holden says:
After the Golden Globes, the People's Choice awards, the critics' awards and the guild nominations, any savvy handicapper could have boiled down the information and come up with a list of 95 percent of the nominees in the major categories.

The sheer amount of data is suggested by the ads for "Million Dollar Baby," which boast of the movie's being on the top-10 lists of 200 critics. That's an exhausting number to contemplate, and it suggests that the Academy Awards are becoming as overrun with statistical calculation as baseball.
How does the Academy get the sizzle back? If I knew, I'm sure the ceremony's TV producers would pay handsomely for the answer. Moving the telecast from late March to late February has helped, although the result has been that various groups and guilds have also pushed up their announcements earlier and earlier, like department stores trying to declare the start of the Christmas shopping season before Thanksgiving. I suppose that the only thing to do is enjoy the good movies that many will finally get a chance to see and not give the rest of it much thought.

Friday, January 21, 2005


Sponsors of promotional movie screenings typically give away free posters, soundtrack CDs, and other items tied to the film being shown. Tonight I saw ARE WE THERE YET?, a new family comedy with Ice Cube. (There's something you wouldn't have expected circa N.W.A.'s heyday.) Anyway, they distributed the usual stuff (posters) and the promo items tailored for the film (whoopie cushions). A little bit later a local television personality leads another giveaway aimed at the kids in attendance. When he's finished he mentions that he also has posters for THE WOODSMAN for those who would like one. Yes, that's the film starring Kevin Bacon as a convicted pedophile trying to integrate into society again.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Assault on Precinct 13

ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 (Jean-François Richet, 2005)

John Carpenter’s 1976 film ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 has been remade with Ethan Hawke as the police sergeant in need of redemption. Hawke stars as Jake Roenick, an undercover cop whose team members were killed when their operation failed to go as planned. Choosing to stay out of the line of fire, Jake takes over a supervisory role at a Detroit precinct scheduled to close on New Year’s Day. The precinct building is mostly empty on New Year’s Eve until bad weather forces a prisoner transport bus to stop there until conditions improve. One of the prisoners is Marion Bishop, a high-profile gangster played by Laurence Fishburne. Shortly after Bishop’s arrival, unknown men surround the building and initiate an attack. To survive Jake and his coworkers arm the prisoners to fight back.

ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 is a western with a video game’s sensibility, like THE ALAMO infused with GRAND THEFT AUTO’S attitude. The evidence room includes a gamer’s selection of vintage weapons, including a working tommy gun. Rudely funny and gleefully violent, the film is a wound-up genre exercise that doesn’t dip even a toe into reality but is a good time if you can get past that. Supporting players Ja Rule and John Leguizamo chew the scenery like hungry dogs that have been tossed steaks. Hawke gets a rare chance to play action hero and works it for several laughs, particularly in the opening undercover scene. Fishburne brings along his Morpheus-like calmness to an underwritten but cold-as-ice gangster. Director Jean- François Richet adds some nice atmosphere and keeps ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 chugging along with factory line efficiency. Richet doesn’t take the film too seriously, which is the best way to enjoy this silly, amped-up action picture.

Grade: B-

(Review first aired on the January 18, 2005 NOW PLAYING)


ELEKTRA (Rob Bowman, 2005)

Jennifer Garner reprises her DAREDEVIL role as the eponymous red bustier-clad assassin in ELEKTRA. When she discovers that her latest high-paying job requires eliminating a father and his teenage daughter, Elektra balks and declines to carry out the hit. Along with her mentor Stick, played by Terence Stamp, Elektra protects them from the villainous organization called The Order of the Hand.

As a supporter of the much-maligned DAREDEVIL, a Jennifer Garner fan via ALIAS, and even a backer of director Rob Bowman’s stupid but enjoyable dragon movie REIGN OF FIRE, everything would seem to be in place for me to throw my recommendation behind ELEKTRA. I can’t do it because the film is an enormous mess, not the least of which is its failure to define all of the characters. Contrary to most comic book adaptations, ELEKTRA does not tell her origin story. It’s a novel and not inherently bad decision that could juice up a genre that usually follows a strict outline; however, ELEKTRA’S lack of structure plays like the filmmakers followed every idea scribbled in the screenplay’s margins. The film’s visual style alternates between hiding everything in murk, as if the production couldn’t afford enough lights, and casting scenes in a reddish-orange tone that looks as if the light was filtered through a can of tomato soup. ELEKTRA’S muddled story and formal unsightliness aren’t filmmaking tragedies of Greek proportions, just Hollywood’s latest casualty of concept over character.

Grade: D+

(Review first aired on the January 18, 2005 NOW PLAYING)

House of Flying Daggers


HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS stars Zhang Ziyi as the blind showgirl Mei, who the police believe to be a member of the rebel clan fighting the emperor. Takeshi Kaneshiro and Andy Lau are the policemen who attempt to trick Mei into leading them to the House of Flying Daggers. They become rivals for her affection along the journey in 859 A.D. China.

Director Zhang Yimou dazzled with the deeply saturated colors in HERO. He adopts a stylized but more naturalistic look for the visually sumptuous wuxia spectacle HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS. The film features three remarkable scenes. The opening act’s echo game, in which Zhang Ziyi dances according to which drums surrounding her are struck, introduces the sense of play and romance that pulses through the film. The second act’s fight sequence in a bamboo forest boasts bravura physical battle while the climactic struggle ratchets up the emotional violence to operatic proportions. HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS is a sight to behold for the eyes, and the sound design is a treat for the ears. Whether it’s the percussive echo game or the clink of swords, Zhang draws attention to the sounds, a technique that underscores Mei’s way of seeing in the world. HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS is a breathtaking action picture and a passionate romance.

Grade: A-

(Review first aired on the January 18, 2005 NOW PLAYING)

Racing Stripes

RACING STRIPES (Frederik Du Chau, 2005)

A zebra that thinks he’s a horse wants to prove his worth on the track in RACING STRIPES. Frankie Muniz voices Stripes, a zebra growing up on a farm near Turfway Park. Stripes believes he can compete with the thoroughbreds and wants his teenage caretaker to ride him across the finish line. Not only must Stripes convince her dad that it’s safe, but he must also get a Dustin Hoffman-voiced Shetland pony to train him for the race.

RACING STRIPES follows a story arc similar to BABE, but it possesses none of the warmth, humor, or originality of that film. The barnyard critters have no personality beyond their voice stuntcasting. Just like some recent animated films, it relies too much on celebrity voices to do the heavy lifting of character development. It’s inevitable that a kids’ film set on a farm will have its share of poop jokes, but RACING STRIPES doesn’t know when enough is enough. More out of place, especially considering the audience, is the Joe Pantoliano-voiced pelican named Goose who drops in to contribute well tread GODFATHER and SCARFACE jokes. RACING STRIPES also conforms to the template for sports movies with a dark horse hero, leaving one to wonder if there isn’t anything in it that hasn’t been recycled from countless better films. Rather than a thrilling race to the finish, the film is a dull slog to the end.

Grade: D

(Review first aired on the January 18, 2005 NOW PLAYING)

Friday, January 14, 2005

Cross promotion

I can't say that I remember watching Live Aid, although I do have some hazy memory of seeing parts of the big 1985 benefit concert while being at a house where they had a trampoline. That very random--and frankly, not very interesting--story of Live Aid in my life surely wouldn't win me a free copy of the 4-DVD set at, but then again, I write for the site, which would make me ineligible. (Insert sarcastic comment by DVDMon impresario Levi regarding my inconsistent writing for the site, including that review of the TAKING LIVES DVD that I owe him.) You, dear reader, can certainly do better, so check it out.

Much to my disappointment, my writing dropped off over the last week. One major thing occupying my time was putting the finishing touches on my piece for the upcoming Robert Mulligan issue of The Film Journal. The new issue should be online in a couple days. You'll see something more on the academic side of things from me. Hopefully the time spent and copious coffee consumed was worthwhile in refining the piece into its final form.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Wednesday nights on the cathode ray tube

Wednesday is quickly becoming the best night of television, at least if you watch ABC from 8-10 p.m. LOST gets better each week. Last night's episode was a real corker as it increased the scenario's mystery while revealing some major information about a few characters. I also liked how information that the audience has known but most characters haven't is slowly spreading.

I don't remember the last time I "jumped" watching a television show, if I ever have, but one moment last night on LOST delivered an unexpected jolt. I think it's more difficult to get this reaction from home viewers largely because they feel more comfortable there. Besides having the added advantage of the audience being in a "less safe" environment, movie directors shamelessly deploy well-placed stingers, but often the beats in horror films or thrillers are so familiar that I can anticipate them. What happened on LOST came completely out of the blue and was followed by a nice touch showing the character being lifted up and carried out of the frame without showing the island's monster. That was awesome.

ALIAS has returned with three terrific hours to kick off its fourth season. Once again J.J. Abrams has rebooted the show. First Jennifer Garner's Sydney Bristow worked for SD-6, which she believed to be a black ops division of the CIA. As she learned in the pilot, SD-6 was working against the CIA, so she became a double agent. With her help SD-6 was shut down midway through the second season. The fourth season began with Sydney being transferred to Authorized Personnel Only (APO), a black ops division of the CIA. So we're back where we began, sort of.

(By the way, Salon's Charles Taylor, fresh off the debacle that was this year's Slate Movie Club, has written a superb piece explaining ALIAS' pleasures--it's not just about how smokin' Garner is, although that doesn't hurt--and why it's ultimately a domestic drama dressed up as a spy show.)

I've read some grumbling online from fans who are dissatisfied that the show's mythology, the search for the Da Vinci-like Milo Rambaldi's artifacts, has not factored into this season yet, with the blame for stand-alone episodes being assigned to the new viewers the network hopes to attract. With LOST providing a huge lead-in audience, ABC obviously wants to bring more eyeballs to the well-reviewed but ratings-challenged ALIAS. (The network is to be congratulated for displaying patience with its cult hit. Early results for this season indicate that the decision is starting to pay off.) Taking a break from the mythology is a wise creative move too. I was an avid fan of THE X-FILES, but the focus on an increasingly muddled mythology ended up sinking the series by its ninth season. (Coincidentally, THE X-FILES' final season was ALIAS' first. The shows aired head-to-head, and my abandonment of sci-fi for spies was probably not uncommon.)

Last night's ALIAS may have been the funniest in the series' history. Kevin Weisman's Marshall was in rare form, especially in the opening scene in which APO try to break into a Bahamanian bank safe; however, as Sydney's humorless father Jack Bristow, Victor Garber's deadpan delivery of "I don't read e-vites" was priceless.

More non-J.J. Abrams TV project writing to come later today...

Wednesday, January 05, 2005


I should have posted this months ago, but for whatever reason I never got around to it. I wanted to find a way to make a crack about independent filmmakers' habit of giving characters strange names but couldn't make it work. (Here we get a boy named, of all things, Chat.) I also didn't mention the decent soundtrack. Since I saw EVERGREEN in early September, too much time has passed to remember any impressions other than the fact that I noted the music.

So, here it is, written four months ago but unpublished until now, from the vault...

EVERGREEN (Enid Zentelis, 2004)

Rich people have problems too.

Money doesn’t solve everything.

The grass is always greener on the other side.

If you’re familiar with these truisms, then you have no compelling reason to see EVERGREEN, a well-meaning but overly earnest independent film that imparts this wisdom.

Although the title refers to the trees populating the film’s Washington state landscape, EVERGREEN is also a play on words that indicates teenage Henri’s envy of those better off than her family.

Kate (Cara Seymour) needs a fresh start in life. Broke with nowhere to go but her Latvian mother’s house, she and daughter Henri (Addie Land) relocate to the Evergreen State. The living arrangements aren’t ideal. Mother and daughter must share a mattress on the floor. The sieve-like roof directs rainwater into streaming leaks instead of keeping it out.

Henri finds her mom’s claims of a new, positive beginning dubious at best. It isn’t long before Kate jumps into a relationship with a Native American poker dealer (Gary Farmer) and accepts a job at a cosmetics factory. Kate’s life before the film is largely unknown to us, but Henri’s reactions suggest that she has seen her mother unsuccessfully follow this plan before.

Henri is ashamed of her mother, but even more, she is ashamed of being poor. Discomfort with her situation is magnified when she meets Chat (Noah Fleiss). He comes from a wealthy home and looks to have the life she desires. As Henri’s relationship with Kate strains, Henri gradually takes on Chat’s mom (Mary Kay Place) and dad (Bruce Davison) as surrogate parents. Naturally, all is not as perfect as it appears.

EVERGREEN excels at conveying poverty’s crushing weight. The drab visual palette expresses the emotional toll of the characters’ circumstances. Belinda Moening’s set decoration and Katie Rielly’s production design get the details right too. With its peeled wallpaper and newspapers stacked all around it, the grandmother’s house possesses a dreary, lived-in feel. I was impressed with the sensitivity displayed in the condition of an old car that Kate drives near the film’s end. Ordinarily a car with a cracked windshield and rusted wipers wouldn’t be considered valuable, but writer-director Enid Zentelis strongly establishes how such a vehicle would be precious to these people.

While Zentelis and her crew succeed in evoking an emotional atmosphere, she falls short in the storytelling department. In underplaying her points Zentelis demonstrates a delicate touch that indicates trust in the audience’s intelligence; however, EVERGREEN is composed of standard teleplay material that fails to surprise and engage at almost every turn.

Henri may be a sympathetic character, but she’s not very interesting. Kate’s struggles, failures, and dreams promise richer drama than a teenager learning that the wealthy lead flawed existences. EVERGREEN'S best scene adopts Kate’s perspective. While trying her hand at door-to-door cosmetics sales she finds Henri at Chat’s house. Chat’s mother Susan doesn’t know who Kate is and insists that she give Henri a makeover. Kate pretends to be a stranger while Henri silently endures the embarrassment. In these fleeting moments Seymour shows the depths of Kate’s disappointment in herself for not being able to give her daughter more.

Watching EVERGREEN feels like being taught a lesson than viewing an instructive piece of entertainment. Message is important, but it can’t overwhelm the enjoyment factor. The film also moves at a snail’s pace, a lethal quality for something with modest plot developments.

Evergreen is being released with digital presentations in AMC Theatres. The press screening I attended appeared to present a projected DVD, not a digitally projected file as seen in some places with STAR WARS: EPISODE II: ATTACK OF THE CLONES or SPY KIDS 3-D. Keeping in mind the subdued visuals, the image was not as bright as it likely should be and was soft, especially when compared to digital projection’s crispness. This is not the optimum viewing experience.

Grade: C-

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou


Bill Murray embarks on a quest to avenge the death of his friend in THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU. Murray plays the Jacques Cousteau-like Steve Zissou, an oceanic explorer struggling to continue making his documentary films. The most recent mission ended with a jaguar shark eating Steve’s best friend Esteban. The incident provides him with better material for his film as well as cause to ponder his own mortality and relevance. Joining the crew of the Belafonte is Owen Wilson as Ned Plimpton, an Air Kentucky pilot who believes Steve may be his long-lost biological father.

THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU is the latest from RUSHMORE and THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS writer-director Wes Anderson. Noah Baumbach replaces previous co-writing partner Owen Wilson for this film, but the arch humor remains familiar. Anderson is known for creating hermetic worlds that seem fussed over down to the tiniest detail. He outdoes himself with THE LIFE AQUATIC, creating a wondrous visual space in the Belafonte. First and foremost Anderson possesses a masterful eye for composition and color. From the very first shot, THE LIFE AQUATIC is eye-popping, making most other films look like the dingy work of amateurs. The film’s storyline plays out as a comic riff on MOBY-DICK, which is hilarious if you’re on Anderson’s wavelength but will probably bore to tears those who aren’t. Murray is perfectly cast as the world-weary, irascible Steve Zissou. In a talented supporting cast Willem Dafoe stands out as Klaus, a longtime Team Zissou member who protects Steve like a guard dog and feels threatened when Ned comes aboard. An ambitious, uproariously funny, and even touching film, THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU cements Anderson as one of the most talented directors of his generation.

Grade: A

(Review first aired on the January 4, 2005 NOW PLAYING)

A Very Long Engagement (Un long dimanche de fiançailles)


AMÉLIE director Jean-Pierre Jeunet and star Audrey Tautou collaborate again on a story of lovers separated during World War I in A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT. Tautou’s Mathilde refuses to believe reports that her soul mate Manech, one of five French soldiers facing reprimand, has been killed. Like a Gallic Nancy Drew with a polio-induced limp, Mathilde searches for the truth of the matter and the location of her beloved.

A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT is equal parts whimsy and war horrors, a potentially combustible combination that succeeds largely due to Jeunet’s ability to turn absurd melodrama into something magical. Mathilde’s detective work introduces her to a colorful array of characters. Most memorable is her opposite, the prostitute Tina Lombardi played by Marion Cotillard, who employs ruthlessness instead of Mathilde’s above-board methods for finding answers. Tautou’s lovely, expressive face would have made her a star in the silent era. This quality is why she’s so effective as Mathilde. For all of the film’s technical beauty and sophistication, everything essential to the story is written on Tautou’s face.

Grade: B-

(Review first aired on the January 4, 2005 NOW PLAYING)

The Aviator

THE AVIATOR (Martin Scorsese, 2004)

Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Howard Hughes in Martin Scorsese’s THE AVIATOR. Businessman, filmmaker, and eccentric figure, Hughes amassed a fortune, made a large impact in the airline industry, and eventually let his fear of germs overtake him. THE AVIATOR concentrates on Hughes’ early rise and rebound, from the making of HELL’S ANGELS to spurring innovations in aviation, including taking on Pan Am and the legislation it was trying to push through Congress.

Scorsese paints on THE AVIATOR’S epic canvas like only a master can. This is a thrilling picture that merges the director’s gritty style and his adoration of old-fashioned Hollywood. The production design alone makes the film a must-see. The gleaming planes and the astonishing period recreations, like the Coconut Grove and Pan Am president Juan Trippe’s office, look like every cent they must have cost. In simulating the film processing looks of yesteryear Scorsese and cinematographer Robert Richardson transform THE AVIATOR into a visual feast. Two spectacular plane crashes rank among the year’s best action sequences. DiCaprio delivers a dynamic performance full of charisma and complexity. He shows how the qualities that helped Hughes thrive in his work ultimately brought about his ruin. Cate Blanchett’s turn as Katharine Hepburn is terrific fun, and Alan Alda and Alec Baldwin, as a complicit United States senator and the Pan Am president, give THE AVIATOR two hiss-worthy villains. THE AVIATOR is one of the year’s best.

Grade: A

(Review first aired on the January 4, 2005 NOW PLAYING)


KINSEY (Bill Condon, 2004)

Indiana University researcher Alfred Kinsey scandalized America in the 1940s and 50s with the publication of his studies SEXUAL BEHAVIOR IN THE HUMAN MALE and SEXUAL BEHAVIOR IN THE HUMAN FEMALE. Bill Condon’s film KINSEY examines the man behind the landmark research. Liam Neeson stars, with Laura Linney playing Kinsey’s wife Clara. Kinsey and his team conducted thousands of interviews in their scientific exploration of human sexuality. What he learned and reported changed public perception of normality. Needless to say, Kinsey’s findings were controversial at the time, and his discoveries and conclusions continue to stir vociferous debate.

Using the same tactic that Kinsey insisted upon for his research interviews, Condon’s nonjudgmental presentation of his subject grants closer inspection than a film with a specific viewpoint could. Whether one agrees with Kinsey or not, the film observes the man and lets the audience determine the value of his work. The strategy was at the heart of Kinsey’s method. Through impartiality the interviewer could make the interviewee feel more comfortable and thus more open to giving honest responses. With his lanky frame and bad haircut, Kinsey doesn’t look at all like someone at ease talking to anyone, let alone inquiring about their sex lives, but Neeson locates the right level of engagement and dispassion in the scientist’s approach. Kinsey’s interest in sex combines the psychological and mechanical, and the film strikes a balance that is neither erotic nor clinical. Bolstered by Neeson’s good performance, Condon’s character study examines Kinsey warts and all.

Grade: B

(Review first aired on the January 4, 2005 NOW PLAYING)

Monday, January 03, 2005

Hell's Angels

James Hall, Jean Harlow, and Ben Lyon in Hell's Angels

HELL'S ANGELS (Howard Hughes, 1930)

Martin Scorsese's THE AVIATOR spurred my interest to track down Howard Hughes' HELL'S ANGELS. The 1930 film has some major weaknesses--most of the expository scenes, especially a creaky beginning--but there's enough stunning stuff in it to make it worth seeing. The two big action sequences--a German zeppelin's mission to bomb Trafalgar Square and the English bombing of a depot with subsequent dogfight--are great. Hughes tints some scenes to nice effect, like the violet dawn sky during a duel, and the ballroom dance provides an interesting example of early color film. (The two DVD screencaps are taken from this part of HELL'S ANGELS.) Also notable is Jean Harlow's performance, which has a high sexual charge that is sort of shocking today and must have been scandalous at the time of the film's production.

Jean Harlow and James Hall in Hell's Angel's

Harry Behn and Howard Estabrook get screenplay credit, with Joseph Moncure March and Marshall Neilan being tabbed for story, so there's plenty of blame to share for this muddled mess. Oxford-attending brothers Roy and Monte Rutledge (James Hall and Ben Lyon) enroll in England's Royal Air Force during World War I. A German school buddy (John Darrow) is called up by his country's military and forced to fight against the people and land he's grown to love. This conflict plays a minor part in the film's first half before being dropped--literally.

The story doesn't amount to much more than an excuse to stage flying stunts, although the criticisms of capitalism and war add a curious flavor to the film. Monte's eagerness to escape the consequences of war, even if it means betraying his fellow soldiers, doesn't make him a hero, but Roy's earnest patriotism isn't exactly upheld as an ideal either. (Maybe Monte is more easily forgiven since he was suckered into enlisting by the promise of a girl's kiss. Shouldn't the RAF have realized he's a lover, not a fighter?)

The best non-action moments are pure melodrama that put people in unimaginable scenarios. As the end of the film's first half approaches, a zeppelin captain gives his men an unthinkable command. At the conclusion Roy and Monte are faced with an awful choice: reveal England's plan of attack to the Germans or be executed. The dialogue and performances--save Harlow--leave much to be desired, but in spite of its considerable flaws, HELL'S ANGELS is an astonishing film.

Grade: B

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Consensus vs. Passion

Apparently every critic and his or her mother think that Alexander Payne's SIDEWAYS is the best thing since the invention of the wheel. The film and the creative team, those behind the camera and in front of it, have won the lion's share of awards announced to this point. It's not undeserving of being honored, but the sheer bulk of critics group prizes it's taking is staggering. The New York Times' A.O. Scott has noticed too and has something to say about "the most drastically overrated movie of 2004".

Overrated probably isn't the right word. Many people like the movie a lot--I'm one of them--but the degree to which it's being singled out as cinema's best is, to be blunt, absurd. I don't think that "overhonored" or "overrecognized" are words, but they more accurately describe the phenomenon that's happening in the critical evaluation of 2004's year in movies.

What's happening isn't necessarily unusual when determining a consensus winner. Even if it isn't ten critics' favorite film, it is placing in each top ten list more than any other. It brings to mind the limitation of a scale like Rotten Tomatoes. If I took part in the survey, my "fresh" reviews for DOGVILLE, my choice for the year's best film, and THE SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS MOVIE, one of the films on the low end of what constitutes a positive review/recommendation, would be considered equal. Needless to say, there's a big difference in how I feel about these films, but the scale doesn't measure passion.

The Village Voice evaluates its poll results with a Passiondex. Here's J. Hoberman's useful definition in his poll essay:
"(The Passiondex™ divides a film's total points by the number of its voters and then multiplies this average by the percentage of those voters who ranked it first.) Measuring the intensity with which critics championed a particular film, the Passiondex™ distinguishes between those movies with real partisans and those that, typically filling out the lower slots in a critic's list, are consensus choices."
Neither a pure consensus nor a Passiondex can perfectly divine what a group thinks is best. I suppose I'm just sore because I think a lot of other films as good as or better than SIDEWAYS are getting lost in the process, and I'm frustrated in my expectations that the trend will continue in the next couple weeks.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

2004 Film List

2004 Films: 250
Other Films: 63
Total: 313

Seen on video (first viewing): 47
Seen on video (repeat viewing): 9

2004 Films

The Adventures of Ociee Nash D 7/26/04 (AMC Easton)
After the Sunset C- 11/9/04 (Marcus Crosswoods)
Against the Ropes D 2/17/04 (AMC Lennox)
Agent Cody Banks: Destination London C 3/6/04 (AMC Easton)
The Alamo B- 4/6/04 (Arena Grand)
Alexander D+ 11/22/04 (AMC Lennox)
Alfie B- 10/19/04 (AMC Lennox)
Alien vs. Predator C- 8/13/04 (Arena Grand)
Along Came Polly B- 1/16/04 (AMC Lennox)
America's Heart & Soul C 6/1/04 (Marcus Crosswoods)
Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid C+ 8/29/04 (Arena Grand)
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy B 7/6/04 (AMC Lennox)
Around the Bend C- 10/6/04 (AMC Lennox)
Around the World in 80 Days B- 6/14/04 (AMC Lennox)
The Aviator A 12/7/04 (Drexel East)

Baadasssss! B+ 6/22/04 (Drexel East)
Barbershop 2: Back in Business C+ 2/3/04 (AMC Lennox)
Before Sunset A+ 6/29/04 (Wexner Center), 7/7/04 (Drexel East)
Being Julia C 11/16/04 (Drexel East)
Beyond the Sea C 12/31/04 (Marcus Crosswoods)
The Big Bounce B- 1/26/04 (AMC Lennox)
Birth C+ 10/21/04 (Drexel East)
Blade: Trinity D 12/9/04 (Cinemark Movies 16-Gahanna)
Blind Shaft (Mang jing) B+ 5/14/04 (Wexner Center)
The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi (Zatoichi) B- 5/24/04 (Drexel East)
Blissfully Yours (Sud sanaeha) C- 11/12/04 (Wexner Center)
Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius C+ 5/1/04 (Marcus Crosswoods)
Bon Voyage A- 6/1/04 (Drexel East)
The Bourne Supremacy B- 7/20/04 (Arena Grand), 7/23/04 (Arena Grand)
Breakin' All the Rules C- 5/11/04 (AMC Lennox)
Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason D 11/12/04 (Marcus Crosswoods)
Broken Lizard's Club Dread C- 2/29/04 (Marcus Crosswoods)
Brothers in Arms: The Story of the Crew of Patrol Craft Fast 94 B- 9/3/04 (Wexner Center)
The Brown Bunny B 11/19/04 (Wexner Center)
The Butterfly Effect D+ 1/22/04 (Marcus Crosswoods)

Carandiru C+ 7/6/04 (Drexel East)
Catch That Kid D+ 1/31/04 (AMC Lennox)
Catwoman D 7/23/04 (Arena Grand)
Cellular B- 9/10/04 (Arena Grand)
Celsius 41.11: The Temperature at Which the Brain Begins to Die D- 10/22/04 (AMC Easton)
Chasing Liberty C 1/6/04 (AMC Easton)
Christmas with the Kranks F 11/20/04 (AMC Easton)
The Chronicles of Riddick D+ 6/11/04 (Arena Grand)
A Cinderella Story C- 7/13/04 (Arena Grand)
The Clearing B- 7/1/04 (Arena Grand)
Closer B 11/30/04 (Drexel East)
Coach Carter B- 12/6/04 (AMC Lennox)
Code 46 A- 8/24/04 (AMC Forum, Montreal, QC)
Coffee and Cigarettes B 6/30/04 (Drexel East)
Collateral B 8/3/04 (Arena Grand)
Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen C- 2/22/04 (Marcus Crosswoods)
Connie and Carla D 4/16/04 (Marcus Crosswoods)
Control Room B 6/14/04 (Drexel East)
The Cookout F 9/2/04 (AMC Lennox)
The Corporation B- 10/15/04 (Drexel Grandview)
Cowards Bend the Knee A- 3/26/04 (Wexner Center)
Criminal B 9/7/04 (Drexel East)
Crimson Gold (Talaye sorkh) B 5/21/04 (Wexner Center)

Danny Deckchair B- 8/18/04 (AMC Lennox)
Darkness D- 12/28/04 (AMC Easton)
Dawn of the Dead B- 3/16/04 (AMC Lennox)
The Day After Tomorrow C+ 5/25/04 (Arena Grand)
Dear Frankie B 8/9/04 (Drexel East)
De-Lovely C 7/13/04 (Drexel East)
Dig! B- 7/9/04 (Wexner Center)
Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights D 2/29/04 (Marcus Crosswoods)
A Dirty Shame D- 9/16/04 (Drexel East)
Distant (Uzak) B 6/18/04 (Wexner Center)
Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story B- 6/18/04 (Arena Grand)
Dogville A+ 3/10/04 (Wexner Center), 4/15/04 (Drexel East)
The Door in the Floor B 8/3/04 (Drexel East)
The Dreamers C 2/5/04 (Drexel East)

Ella Enchanted B- 4/3/04 (AMC Easton)
Enduring Love B+ 12/5/04 (Drexel East)
Envy D+ 4/29/04 (Arena Grand)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind A 3/19/04 (Arena Grand)
Eurotrip C- 2/22/04 (Marcus Crosswoods)
Evergreen C- 9/8/04 (AMC Lennox)
Exorcist: The Beginning D+ 8/19/04 (Arena Grand)

Facing Windows (La Finestra di fronte) B- 10/29/04 (Drexel East)
Fade to Black C 12/02/04 (Drexel East)
Fahrenheit 9/11 B 6/21/04 (Drexel East), 6/25/04 (Arena Grand)
Fat Albert C 12/18/04 (AMC Easton)
Father and Son (Otets i syn) D+ 8/12/04 (Wexner Center)
Festival Express C 10/30/04 (Drexel East)
50 First Dates B- 2/13/04 (Arena Grand)
The Final Cut C 10/8/04 (AMC Lennox)
Finding Neverland C+ 11/18/04 (Drexel East)
First Daughter D+ 9/22/04 (AMC Easton)
The Five Obstructions (De Fem benspænd) A+ 3/4/04 (Wexner Center)
Flight of the Phoenix D+ 12/15/04 (AMC Lennox)
The Forgotten B- 9/21/04 (Arena Grand)
Friday Night Lights B 9/28/04 (AMC Lennox)

Garden State A- 8/12/04 (Drexel East)
Garfield: The Movie C- 6/9/04 (AMC Lennox)
Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence C 9/9/04 (AMC Lennox)
The Girl Next Door C 3/24/04 (AMC Easton)
Godsend D 4/27/04 (Drexel East)
Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry B 10/1/04 (Drexel East)
Good Bye Lenin! B- 4/30/04 (Drexel East)
Greendale B- 8/11/04 (Wexner Center)
The Grudge B 10/19/04 (Arena Grand)

Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle D 5/17/04 (Arena Grand)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban B 5/24/04 (Marcus Crosswoods)
Head in the Clouds B 11/14/04 (Drexel East)
Hellboy B- 3/29/04 (Arena Grand)
Hero (Ying xiong) A- 8/19/04 (Drexel East)
Hidalgo C- 3/5/04 (Arena Grand)
A Home at the End of the World C- 9/24/04 (Arena Grand)
Home on the Range B- 3/27/04 (Marcus Crosswoods)
The Hunting of the President C- 9/17/04 (Drexel East)

I ♥ Huckabees B+ 10/14/04 (Drexel East), 11/5/04 (Arena Grand)
I'm Not Scared (Io non ho paura) B 6/8/04 (Drexel East)
The Incredibles B+ 10/30/04 (AMC Easton), 11/5/04 (Arena Grand)
Intermission B- 4/30/04 (Drexel Grandview)
Intimate Strangers (Confidences trop intimes) B+ 8/28/04 (Carlton Cineplex Odeon, Toronto, ON)
I, Robot B- 7/15/04 (Arena Grand)

Jersey Girl B- 3/3/04 (Drexel East)
Johnson Family Vacation D+ 4/2/04 (Drexel East)
Ju-on C 10/26/04 (Drexel East)

Kill Bill Vol. 2 A 4/12/04 (Arena Grand)
King Arthur C+ 6/30/04 (Arena Grand)
Kinsey B 12/9/04 (Drexel East)
Kitchen Stories (Salmer fra kjøkkenet) B 5/3/04 (Drexel East)

Ladder 49 C 10/1/04 (Arena Grand)
The Ladykillers C 3/23/04 (Drexel East)
Latter Days D 5/28/04 (Drexel Grandview)
Laws of Attraction B- 4/14/04 (Marcus Crosswoods)
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events B- 12/11/04 (AMC Lennox)
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou A 12/21/04 (Arena Grand), 12/28/04 (Arena Grand)
Little Black Book F 7/28/04 (Arena Grand)
Los Angeles Plays Itself B- 4/9/04 (Wexner Center)
The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra D+ 5/18/04 (Drexel East)
Love Me If You Dare (Jeux d'enfants) D+ 7/30/04 (Drexel East)

The Machinist B- 12/7/04 (Drexel East)
The Manchurian Candidate B 7/16/04 (AMC Lennox)
Man on Fire C- 4/20/04 (Arena Grand)
Maria Full of Grace B+ 8/17/04 (Drexel East)
MC5 * A True Testimonial B- 7/14/04 (Wexner Center)
Mean Creek B 10/29/04 (Drexel East)
Mean Girls B+ 4/7/04 (AMC Lennox)
Meet the Fockers C+ 12/16/04 (Arena Grand)
Metallica: Some Kind of Monster A 7/8/04 (Arena Grand)
Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers C 8/16/04 (Marcus Crosswoods)
Miracle B+ 2/8/04 (Arena Grand)
The Mother B 10/1/04 (Drexel East)
The Motorcycle Diaries (Diarios de motocicleta) B 10/9/04 (Drexel East)
Mr. 3000 B- 9/14/04 (Arena Grand)
My Baby's Daddy F 1/9/04 (AMC Easton)

Napoleon Dynamite B 7/8/04 (Drexel East), 7/24/04 (Drexel Grandview)
NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience C 3/12/04 (Marcus Crosswoods)
National Lampoon's Gold Diggers F 9/17/04 (Marcus Crosswoods)
National Treasure C+ 11/17/04 (Marcus Crosswoods)
Never Die Alone D 3/18/04 (Drexel East)
New York Minute D- 5/4/04 (AMC Easton)
The Notebook B 6/17/04 (Cinemark Movies 10)

Ocean's Twelve B- 12/7/04 (AMC Lennox)
Open Water B 8/4/04 (Arena Grand)
Osama B- 4/19/04 (Drexel East)

Paparazzi C- 9/3/04 (Marcus Crosswoods)
The Passion of the Christ B- 2/23/04 (Drexel East)
The Perfect Score C- 1/27/04 (AMC Lennox)
The Phantom of the Opera B- 12/20/04 (AMC Easton)
The Polar Express B+ 11/6/04 (AMC Easton)
The Prince & Me B- 3/28/04 (AMC Lennox)
The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement C- 8/9/04 (Marcus Crosswoods)
The Punisher D+ 4/1/04 (Arena Grand)

Raise Your Voice C- 10/5/04 (Marcus Crosswoods)
Raising Helen D+ 5/5/04 (Marcus Crosswoods)
Ray B- 10/26/04 (Arena Grand)
The Reckoning C- 4/3/04 (Drexel East)
Resident Evil: Apocalypse B- 9/10/04 (AMC Lennox)
The Return (Vozvrashcheniye) B+ 7/23/04 (Wexner Center)
Riding Giants B 10/1/04 (Drexel East)
Rosenstrasse C- 12/17/04 (Drexel East)

S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine B- 9/24/04 (Wexner Center)
Sacred Planet C+ 4/16/04 (Marcus Crosswoods)
The Saddest Music in the World B+ 8/16/04 (Drexel East)
Saved! C+ 6/9/04 (Drexel East)
Saw C+ 10/7/04 (AMC Lennox)
Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed C- 3/20/04 (AMC Lennox)
Secret Things (Choses secrètes) B+ 7/9/04 (Wexner Center)
Secret Window B- 3/12/04 (Marcus Crosswoods)
Seed of Chucky D 11/12/04 (Marcus Crosswoods)
Sexual Dependency (Dependencia sexual) B 7/16/04 (Wexner Center)
Shall We Dance? B+ 10/13/04 (AMC Lennox)
Shark Tale C- 10/1/04 (Arena Grand)
Shaun of the Dead B- 9/21/04 (AMC Lennox)
Shrek 2 B- 5/13/04 (Arena Grand)
Sideways A- 11/4/04 (Drexel East)
Silver City B- 9/30/04 (Drexel East)
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow B 9/13/04 (AMC Lennox), 9/24/04 (Arena Grand)
Sleepover D+ 7/7/04 (Arena Grand)
A Slipping-Down Life C- 5/19/04 (Drexel East)
Soul Plane D 5/25/04 (AMC Lennox)
Spanglish C- 12/10/04 (Drexel East)
Spartan A- 3/13/04 (Arena Grand)
Spider-Man 2 A 6/24/04 (AMC Lennox), 7/11/04 (Marcus Crosswoods)
The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie B- 11/13/04 (AMC Easton)
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring (Bom yeoreum gaeul gyeoul geurigo bom) A- 8/10/04 (Drexel East)
Stage Beauty B- 10/15/04 (Drexel East)
Starsky & Hutch C 3/2/04 (AMC Lennox)
The Stepford Wives C 6/8/04 (AMC Lennox)
The Story of the Weeping Camel (Die Geschichte vom weinenden Kamel) B- 7/1/04 (Drexel East)
Strayed (Les Égarés) B 8/20/04 (Wexner Center)
Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2 F 8/30/04 (Marcus Crosswoods)
Super Size Me B+ 5/13/04 (Drexel East)
Surviving Christmas D+ 10/21/04 (Marcus Crosswoods)
Suspect Zero D 8/30/04 (Marcus Crosswoods)

Taking Lives D- 3/15/04 (Arena Grand)
Tarnation B+ 4/22/04 (Virginia Theater, Champaign, IL)
Taxi D 10/8/04 (AMC Lennox)
Teacher's Pet B- 1/16/04 (AMC Lennox)
Team America: World Police B 10/12/04 (AMC Lennox)
The Terminal B+ 6/15/04 (AMC Lennox), 7/11/04 (Marcus Crosswoods)
Thérèse: The Story of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux D+ 10/22/04 (AMC Easton)
13 Going on 30 B 4/10/04 (Marcus Crosswoods)
Thunderbirds C- 7/24/04 (Arena Grand)
Time of the Wolf (Le Temps du loup) B+ 8/6/04 (Wexner Center)
Tokyo Godfathers B 4/9/04 (Drexel Grandview)
Torque D+ 1/13/04 (AMC Easton)
Touching the Void A 3/1/04 (Arena Grand)
Touch of Pink C 10/16/04 (Drexel East)
Tropical Malady (Sud pralad) C 11/13/04 (Wexner Center)
Troy B 5/10/04 (AMC Lennox)
Twisted D+ 2/27/04 (Marcus Crosswoods)
Two Brothers C+ 6/24/04 (Arena Grand)

The United States of Leland C- 4/9/04 (Drexel East)

Van Helsing D 5/7/04 (Arena Grand)
Vanity Fair B- 9/1/04 (Marcus Crosswoods)
Vera Drake B+ 10/28/04 (Drexel East)
A Very Long Engagement (Un long dimanche de fiançailles) B- 12/13/04 (Drexel East)
The Village A 7/29/04 (Arena Grand), 8/7/04 (AMC Lennox)

Walking Tall C 3/30/04 (AMC Easton)
Way Off Broadway C- 3/5/04 (Studio 35)
We Don't Live Here Anymore C+ 8/20/04 (Arena Grand)
Welcome to Mooseport D+ 2/21/04 (Arena Grand)
What the #$*! Do We Know!? F 10/12/04 (Drexel East)
White Chicks D 6/16/04 (AMC Lennox)
The Whole Ten Yards D 4/9/04 (Arena Grand)
Wicker Park C 9/3/04 (Marcus Crosswoods)
Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself C- 5/28/04 (Drexel East)
Wimbledon B- 9/17/04 (Marcus Crosswoods)
Win a Date with Tad Hamilton! B 1/2/04 (Marcus Crosswoods), 1/20/04 (AMC Lennox)
Without a Paddle D 8/10/04 (AMC Easton)
Woman Thou Art Loosed D 10/8/04 (AMC Lennox)

You Got Served D 1/31/04 (AMC Lennox)
Young Adam C 6/11/04 (Drexel East)
Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Movie F 8/7/04 (AMC Lennox)

Zhou Yu's Train (Zhou Yu de huo che) C- 11/5/04 (Drexel East)

Other Films

Aki Kaurismäki B 2/6/04 (Wexner Center)
Anything Can Happen (Waisa Bhi Hota Hai Part II) C- 5/26/04 (Wexner Center)
Au hasard Balthazar B- 6/25/04 (Wexner Center)
The Barbarian Invasions (Les Invasions barbares) C 2/2/04 (Drexel East)
The Battle of Algiers (La Battaglia di Algeri) B 5/12/04 (Drexel East)
Big Fish A- 1/10/04 (Arena Grand)
The Black Stallion B 7/4/04 (Drexel Grandview)
The Blank Generation D 7/14/04 (Wexner Center)
Breaking the Waves A- 3/14/04 (Wexner Center)
Christmas Holiday B- 12/18/04 (Wexner Center)
The Company A- 1/27/04 (Drexel East), 4/3/04 (Drexel East)
Dancer in the Dark A 3/18/04 (Wexner Center)
Deathdream C- 8/6/04 (Wexner Center)
Destination Unknown (1933) B- 12/18/04 (Wexner Center)
Duck, You Sucker! B+ 4/2/04 (Wexner Center)
The Element of Crime (Forbrydelsens element) ??? 3/25/04 (Wexner Center)
Elephant B- 3/19/04 (Drexel East)
Elf B+ 1/2/04 (Marcus Crosswoods)
Epidemic B- 3/25/04 (Wexner Center)
The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara B+ 2/24/04 (Drexel East)
Forty Guns 4/30/04 (Wexner Center)
The Gospel of John C 1/20/04 (Drexel East)
Her Majesty (2001) B 7/24/04 (Drexel East)
The Idiots (Idioterne) B- 3/11/04 (Wexner Center)
The Kids are Alright B+ 8/11/04 (Wexner Center)
Late Spring (Banshun) B 10/15/04 (Wexner Center)
A Little Princess (1995) A 7/8/04 (Drexel East)
Makdee: Web of the Witch (Makdee) B- 12/4/04 (Wexner Center)
The Man without a Past (Mies vailla menneisyyttä) A 2/6/04 (Wexner Center)
Medea (1988) B+ 3/18/04 (Wexner Center)
Monsieur Ibrahim B- 4/13/04 (Drexel East)
Monster B- 1/16/04 (AMC Lennox)
Monty Python's Life of Brian B+ 6/15/04 (Drexel East)
Mother and Son (Mat i syn) C 8/12/04 (Wexner Center)
My Architect B 4/18/04 (Wexner Center)
Mysterious Object at Noon (Dokfa nai meuman) C+ 11/12/04 (Wexner Center)
Nightjohn A- 12/4/04 (Wexner Center)
One from the Heart C 2/14/04 (Wexner Center)
Pale Flower (Kawaita hana) B- 7/23/04 (Wexner Center)
Playtime A 7/30/04 (Wexner Center)
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised B- 3/5/04 (Wexner Center)
Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy Working with Time B- 4/16/04 (Drexel Grandview)
Samsara B 8/26/04 (Carlton Cineplex Odeon, Toronto, ON)
The Sandlot B- 7/17/04 (Drexel East)
The Statement C- 3/26/04 (Drexel East)
Tamala 2010: A Punk Cat in Space B- 3/20/04 (Wexner Center)
THX 1138 B 9/11/04 (AMC Lennox)
Touchez pas au Grisbi B 6/25/04 (Wexner Center)
The Triplets of Belleville (Les Triplettes de Belleville) B 2/3/04 (Drexel East)
Zentropa (Europa) B- 3/11/04 (Wexner Center)
Zero Day A- 9/24/04 (Wexner Center)

Roger Ebert's Overlooked Film Festival
(All films seen at the Virginia Theater in Champaign, IL)

Gates of Heaven A 4/24/04
The General (1927) A+ 4/23/04
Invincible (2001, dir. Werner Herzog) B- 4/24/04
Lawrence of Arabia A+ 4/21/04
Louie Bluie B 4/25/04
El Norte B 4/23/04
My Dog Skip B+ 4/24/04
Once Upon a Time...When We Were Colored B- 4/22/04
People I Know C+ 4/24/04
The Son (Le Fils) A 4/22/04
Sweet Old Song B 4/25/04
Tully B- 4/23/04

Notable shorts (not counted in total)

The Scapegoat A+ 4/23/04 (Virginia Theater, Champaign, IL)
The Winged Scourge 4/30/04 (Wexner Center)

Compilation programs (not counted in total)

Rare films from the baseball Hall of Fame 4/2/04 (Wexner Center)

Seen for the first time (DVD, TV)

Aguirre, The Wrath of God (Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes) B 10/17/04 (DVD)
Ali G Indahouse C 11/20/04 (DVD)
Big Top Pee-Wee C+ 10/23/04 (DVD)
Bombshell (1933) B- 12/17/04 (TV)
Breathless (À bout de souffle) (1960) B+ 1/4/04 (DVD)
Citizen Ruth C+ 11/10/04 (DVD)
A Clockwork Orange B 8/7/04 (DVD)
Damage C 8/4/04 (DVD)
The Darien Gap B- 5/8/04 (TV)
Dead Calm B- 9/6/04 (DVD)
Drugstore Cowboy B- 2/16/04 (DVD)
Fast, Cheap & Out of Control B+ 1/11/04 (DVD)
Fitzcarraldo B+ 8/8/04 (DVD)
Foreign Correspondent C 9/12/04 (DVD)
Fourteen Hours C+ 1/3/04 (TV)
The Glass Shield B- 12/10/04 (DVD)
The Godfather Part II A+ 7/17/04 (DVD)
The Godfather Part III B 7/17/04 (DVD)
The Grifters B 7/21/04 (DVD)
Happenstance (Le Battement d'ailes du papillon) B- 12/3/04 (DVD)
Hearts of the West B- 5/1/04 (TV)
He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not (À la folie... pas du tout) B+ 1/3/04 (DVD)
The Hospital C 5/2/04 (TV)
The Hunger C- 11/6/04 (DVD)
Ichi the Killer (Koroshiya 1) C- 8/13/04 (DVD)
Infernal Affairs (Wu jian dao) B 12/11/04 (DVD)
It's All True B+ 6/28/04 (TV)
Jim Brown: All-American C 9/15/04 (DVD)
Kraa! The Sea Monster F 11/21/04 (DVD)
The Lady from Shanghai B- 7/24/04 (TV)
The Leopard (Il Gattopardo) B+ 6/20/04 (DVD)
Love Me, Love My Money (Yau ching yam shui baau) C- 8/4/04 (DVD)
The Manchurian Candidate (1962) B 7/15/04 (DVD)
Man with the Movie Camera (Chelovek s kinoapparatom) B+ 1/12/04 (TV)
McCabe & Mrs. Miller B- 10/9/04 (DVD)
Millenium Mambo (Qianxi manbo) B- 9/1/04 (DVD)
Ossessione B 12/16/04 (TV)
Pretty Devils (Voyous voyelles) C- 12/2/04 (DVD)
Shaolin Soccer (Siu lam juk kau) (original Chinese version) B- 9/4/04 (DVD)
Schizopolis B 6/6/04 (DVD)
So Close (Chik yeung tin sai) A- 1/1/04 (DVD)
Stevie B+ 8/1/04 (DVD)
The Stranger B- 7/25/04 (TV)
Summer of '42 A- 12/31/04 (DVD)
Suspicion B+ 9/12/04 (DVD)
The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse) B 6/16/04 (DVD)
The Wedding (1998, dir. Charles Burnett) D+ 12/23/04 (TV)

Repeat viewings (DVD, TV)

Catch Me If You Can A 7/5/04 (DVD)
The Conversation A+ 7/20/04
The Godfather A+ 7/16/04 (DVD)
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade A- 7/5/04 (DVD)
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom B 7/4/04 (DVD)
The Man in the Moon A+ 12/31/04 (DVD)
Minority Report A 7/11/04 (DVD)
Raiders of the Lost Ark A 7/4/04
Spider-Man B 6/23/04 (DVD)